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  • New Report Identifies Banks Consumers Complain About Most | PennPIRG
    basis the banks that generated the most complaints are TCF National Bank Sovereign Bank and Capital One One in four complaints 28 percent resulted in monetary relief to the consumer and an additional 5 percent resulted in non monetary relief to the consumer such as adjusting account terms A total of 95 percent of complaints were closed through the process Pennsylvania ranked 22nd highest overall for our complaints to deposits ratio ranking from highest to lowest based on the amount of complaints relative to the amount of banking done in each state While banks respond to 95 percent of complaints approximately one in every five resolutions is still disputed by the consumer I welcome the efforts of the CFPB as a partner in the Office of Attorney General s fight to protect consumers in Pennsylvania said Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G Kane The CFPB has done an excellent job in creating a forum that is user friendly and provides a window into the broad range of its enforcement regulatory and educational activities To make the public database more useful to consumers the report also highlights several changes that the CFPB should make such as developing a mobile app version for smartphone users Most importantly the CFPB should analyze the data regularly and move to act on problems that become apparent through the process The CFPB should use the information and analysis to implement strong consumer protections said Afranie Sakyi The database is a powerful tool for the CFPB to use in setting its agenda and taking on the most egregious banking practices Download the report Big Banks Big Complaints CFPB s Consumer Complaints Database Gets Real Results for Consumers http pennpirg org reports pap big banks big complaints This is the first in a series of five reports by the

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/new-report-identifies-banks-consumers-complain-about-most (2016-04-27)
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  • New Report Shows Pennsylvanians Are Driving Less | PennPIRG
    in driving miles generally were not the states hit hardest by the economic downturn The majority almost three quarters of the states where per person driving miles declined more quickly than the national average actually saw smaller increases in unemployment compared to the rest of the nation Pennsylvanians drive more that New Yorkers and less than people from New Jersey however we are reducing how much we drive more rapidly The results of this report are encouraging and make clear that we need to continue the fight for an increase in funding for public transportation said State Representative Tim Briggs PA 149 While there is a large decrease in how much Pennsylvanians are driving taxpayer money is being spent without consideration for the needs of Commonwealth citizens A project to widen 6 2 miles of U S 202 was initiated in 2011 Money that could be better spent addressing the public transportation needs of Pennsylvanians Our nation s transport needs are changing and Americans now want to live closer to work drive less and have options to driving said Bob Previdi a former Planner at NYC Transit and spokesman for the City Council in Philadelphia Young people would much rather work on their lap top then listen to traffic reports and the ridership of every public transit agency from SEPTA to Amtrak is up It is time for Pennsylvania legislators to acknowledge this trend and support it The decrease in driving cannot simply be attributed to the economic conditions in Pennsylvania While there has been an increase in the unemployment rate it does not keep pace with the large decrease in vehicle miles travelled per person in Pennsylvania Given these trends we need to press the reset button on our transportation policy said Afranie Sakyi Just because past transportation investments

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/new-report-shows-pennsylvanians-are-driving-less (2016-04-27)
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  • Advocates Call On EPA for Increased Chemical Safety, Security | PennPIRG
    authority under the Clean Air Act to require certain chemical facilities to use safer alternatives and safer processing in plants wherever possible In 2009 Clorox voluntarily began to convert its bleach manufacturing facilities to a high strength liquid alternative to chlorine gas dramatically reducing the risks associated with a potential accident With the President s direction and a confirmed EPA Administrator moving to safer alternatives should be an easy next step said Michael Bralow a member of PennPIRG s citizen outreach staff There are real solutions and safer alternatives available right now that we could already be using Home to 11 high risk chemical plants and crisscrossed by some of the busiest highways and railroad lines in the nation the Philadelphia area faces a particularly high risk of a chemical accident A single accident at the Trainer Refinery just a few miles from Philadelphia could put up to 2 4 million people in danger Last winter a train carrying vinyl chloride and other chemicals derailed near the town of Paulsboro NJ ten miles outside of Philadelphia The accident caused no fatalities but 71 people were sent to the hospital because of exposure to vinyl chloride and the entire town was evacuated Vinyl chloride exposure can cause dizziness respiratory irritation and organ damage We ve spoken with over 25 000 people about this issue across the state and the overwhelming majority of people want safer alternatives now said Bralow PennPIRG is a member of the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters that produced this report PennPIRG the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group takes on powerful interests on behalf of its members working to win concrete results for our health and our well being Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/advocates-call-epa-increased-chemical-safety-security (2016-04-27)
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  • Interest Rates for 374,328 Student Loan Borrowers in Pennsylvania Set to Double on July 1 | PennPIRG
    offered to the neediest students who get hit particularly hard by high levels of debt Sixty eight percent of all subsidized student loan borrowers are from families with incomes of less than 50 000 In addition to the direct impact on students the nation s economic recovery as a whole could be hastened by easing the burden of high student loan debt Despite the number of unemployed workers looking for jobs right now the lack of an educated workforce remains a persistent problem for our country making it even harder to meet the economy s needs In Pennsylvania 60 percent of all jobs will require a bachelor s degree or certificate Keeping the interest rate low on student loans will make college more accessible and send an urgent signal to students workers and the unemployed to get the postsecondary training needed to adapt to new economic realities said Mike Russo advocate for PennPIRG In addition PennPIRG projected that if Congress stops the interest rate from doubling the 358 million saved by students could be spent in Pennsylvania s consumer economy rather than being used to pay down student debt The federal government is projected to collect 12 5 cents for each dollar loaned in the subsidized Stafford student loan program in 2013 14 In total student loan programs are expected to generate a whopping 50 billion in revenue for the federal government this year Congress should keep in mind that the ultimate goal of investing in students is to invest in our future economy It is shortsighted to generate profits now off the backs of college students while pushing them deeper into debt in the process said Russo The revenue generated by the student loan program comes at the expense of student borrowers who go deeper into debt as a result An increase in the student loan interest rate would allow the federal government to profit even further while adding to students debt load Students and families consider higher education to be an investment in the future explained Russo Yet Congress seems to be working against that investment and unless they act now with the future of students in mind then it s about to get even worse Several comprehensive student loan reform plans are pending in Washington DC but none have won support from student and consumer groups The U S House passed a bill two weeks ago that increases interest rates even more in the long term than if the rate is allowed to double The President has proposed a plan that keeps rates at 3 4 percent in the near term only to allow them to increase above 6 8 percent later In the Senate Sens Tom Harkin D IA and Jack Reed D RI have proposed a short term solution which PennPIRG supports a two year extension of the low 3 4 percent rate that is paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes Download PennPIRG s issue brief Student Loan Debt in Pennsylvania PennPIRG the Pennsylvania

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/pap/interest-rates-374328-student-loan-borrowers-pennsylvania-set-double-july-1 (2016-04-27)
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  • Pennsylvania Receives a “B” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending | PennPIRG
    and several states pioneering new tools to further expand citizens access to this data One of the most striking findings in this year s report is that all 50 states now provide at least some checkbook level detail about individual government expenditures In 48 states all except California and Vermont this information is now searchable Just three years ago only 32 states provided checkbook level information on state spending online and only 29 states provided that information in searchable form Thirty nine state transparency websites now include tax expenditure reports providing information on government expenditures through tax code deductions exemptions and credits up from just eight states three years ago Open information about the public purse is crucial for democratic and effective government said Baxandall It is not possible to ensure that government spending decisions are fair and efficient unless information is publicly accessible The states with the most transparent spending stand out partly because they are comprehensive about the kinds of spending they include such as data on economic development subsidies expenditures granted through the tax code and quasi public agencies Pennsylvania is one of at least six states that have launched brand new transparency websites since last year s report and most made improvements that are documented in the report The best state transparency tools are highly searchable engage citizens and include detailed information allowing all the information to be put to good use States that have created or improved their online transparency have typically done so with little upfront cost In fact top flight transparency websites can save money for taxpayers while also restoring public confidence in government and preventing misspending and pay to play contracts The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania should build upon this year s progress and further improve the breadth and ease of access of

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/news/paf/pennsylvania-receives-%E2%80%9Cb%E2%80%9D-annual-report-transparency-government-spending (2016-04-27)
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  • Outside Spending, Outsized Influence | PennPIRG
    501 c 4 3 997 585 18 33 48 501 c 6 500 022 00 4 19 527 1 155 569 96 9 68 SuperPAC 5 925 672 01 49 63 501 c 5 Union 360 000 03 3 02 Total 11 938 849 18 SECRET SPENDERS Dark money groups accounted for 37 67 of all outside spending in Pennsylvania House and Senate races These groups do not disclose the source of their funds hiding critical information from voters about who is behind the advertising and what interests are backing which candidates Secret Spending Secret 4 497 607 18 37 67 Not Secret 7 441 242 00 62 33 OUT OF STATE SPENDERS Groups federally registered outside of Pennsylvania accounted for 95 24 of all outside spending in Pennsylvania House and Senate races Out of state spenders are likely to put their own priorities ahead of the needs and interests of Pennsylvanians thus skewing the relationships that Representatives and Senators have with their constituencies Spending Origin In State 568 568 77 4 76 Out of State 11 370 280 41 95 24 Read Billion Dollar Democracy our report on federal spending in the 2012 elections here Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse of Antibiotics Campaign for Safe Energy Democracy For The People Stop the Highway Boondoggles Close Corporate Tax Loopholes Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Label GMO Foods Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Our Federation Featured Position PennPIRG Internship Work on some of the hottest political issues of the day from fighting the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms to promoting campaign finance reform and tackling Citizens United improving voter access for students and underrepresented communities and

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/pap/outside-spending-outsized-influence (2016-04-27)
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  • Billion-Dollar Democracy | PennPIRG
    at least 2 500 from just 0 02 of the American population In the 2012 election cycle 83 9 of House candidates and 66 7 of Senate candidates who outspent their general election opponents won their elections Winning House candidates outraised major opponents by 108 winning Senate candidates by 35 Special Interests Over the Public Interest Super PACs raised a significant portion of their funds from business interests For profits corporations were the second largest donors to Super PACs accounting for 12 of all contributions Businesses provided a significant portion of the funds for some of the most active super PACs including 18 0 of Restore Our Future s funds and 52 7 of Freedomworks for America s funds Candidates and especially winning candidates raised a significant portion of their funds from political action committees PACs Winners of federal House races raised on average 40 of their funds from PACs versus 19 9 raised by major opponents Winners of Senate races raised on average 15 9 of their funds from PACs versus 8 3 for losers Incumbents Over Challengers Grassroots Candidates In 2012 95 2 of incumbent senators and 91 2 of incumbent representatives who ran for office won re election In the 2012 cycle incumbent representatives outraised major challengers 1 732 000 to 319 000 for an incredible 443 advantage Senate incumbents outraised major challengers 7 02 million to 1 69 million for a slightly smaller 316 advantage Challengers depended upon self financing for more than 20 of their funds showing that it s important to be wealthy to run against an incumbent in our big money system Secret Spenders Over Voters Seeking Accountability Non profit groups which before 2010 were not allowed to directly spend on elections spent big while hiding the identity of their donors Of outside

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/pap/billion-dollar-democracy (2016-04-27)
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  • Subsidizing Bad Behavior | PennPIRG
    the settlement was meant to be punishment for misdeeds The Internal Revenue Service is ill prepared to challenge these claims and taxpayers end up holding the bag To help ensure that corporate wrongdoing is not publicly subsidized and that taxpayers are not saddled with the burden U S PIRG offers the following policy recommendations that could save billions of dollars each year The President should instruct federal regulatory bodies to assume full responsibility for determining the extent to which settlement payments are punitive and therefore nondeductible Congress should clarify ambiguities in law and require settlement payments to be designated in ways that will have clear consequences for whether those payments are deductible or non deductible Agencies should disallow tax deductibility of settlement payments when companies wrongly treat public harm as an acceptable business risk In cases where company costs truly are incurred from normal business activities regulators should clearly define and distinguish in the settlements between the agreed upon punitive payments which will not be tax deductible and normal costs of doing business Agencies should be instructed to publicize the expected after tax amounts of settlements which would more accurately report the net penalty that will be paid by the corporation This is a matter of truth in advertising Likewise any company s public statements about the settlement should list how much of the settlement the company would likely pay after taxes Any publicly traded corporations that deduct part or whole of a settlement with federal agencies should be required to provide brief justification for deducting such expenses on their annual filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission SEC The Internal Revenue Service should continue its progress towards comprehensive information sharing with federal agencies to help agencies designate what can be tax deductible and to establish standard procedures to determine

    Original URL path: http://www.pennpirg.org/reports/pap/subsidizing-bad-behavior (2016-04-27)
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